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Windsor and London law firms launch lawsuits over Takata airbags
Law firms in Windsor and London have teamed up to launch five class-action lawsuits against automakers whose vehicles have Takata airbags and are on a Transport Canada recall list.
McKenzie Lake in London is partnering with the Windsor firm Sutts Strosberg.
There are separate suits against Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Nissan – the companies from which the majority of recalls have come – and a combined suit against the other six manufacturers and Takata.
The airbags can explode violently when they deploy and rupture, sending shrapnel flying. Certain car models between 2004 and 2007 from most major automakers used them.
The suit says the automakers and Takata knew or ought to have known of the defect and should have informed automobile owners of the dangers.
On Tuesday, Takata admitted that its airbags were defective and agreed to double the number of vehicles recalled in the United States, to nearly 34 million. It is the largest global recall in any industry.
Several million automobiles in Canada could have the airbags.
“The class actions represent all Canadians affected by the recalls, all owners of the vehicles as of the recall dates,” says McKenzie Lake’s Sabrina Lombardi. “Our lawsuits just focus on consumers.”
The companies have lined up counsel for the court battle.
“The Takata defendants have not responded beyond notifying us of their Canadian legal counsel for these actions,” Lombardi tells CTV News in an exclusive interview.
The lawsuit will be amended once more information becomes available from the companies, she says.
Some, such as Chrysler, have not notified any consumers about recalls despite having vehicles on recall list.
“These manufacturers have lots of explaining to do,” she says.
Six deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide have been linked to the flaw, but there appear to be no Canadian injuries.
“Even Transport Canada is not aware of a single personal injury in Canada. We just don't think that's going to be an issue in Canada,” Lombardi says.
She says her firm has been contacted by hundreds of people.
At this point it is unclear how many will join the suit.
Londoner Donald D’Haene is a spokesperson on behalf of the plaintiffs.
He owns a 2004 Pontiac Vibe he uses to transport vulnerable clients in his role as a personal support worker.
D’Haene wasn’t given a straight answer when he called a dealership seeking information about the recall.
But his vehicle is on Transport Canada’s list.
D’Haene has been finding other means of transportation and says he may be forced to get a new vehicle.
“I would not have a job if I didn’t have a vehicle.”
Lombardi hopes this lawsuit, which will take years to work its way through the legal system, will get consumers some answers.
“This affects their everyday life. They have to take time out of their lives to deal with it. It will affect the value of their vehicles.”
The companies listed in the suit are Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Subaru, Pontiac and Ford.
To find out if your vehicle is affected by the recall, you can search Transport Canada’s recalls data base at the link provided.
Transport Canada also has links to automakers’ VIN search tools.